Is the B&B Manager life in Spain made for you?
At the beginning of the project, it is necessary to be able to put yourself in a position where you can see if the life of a B&B manager is made for you. It is clear that your situation, environment and general context will be specific to you. Nevertheless, we can identify some key elements that are common to all B&B’s.
We will talk about prerequisites with which you must be in harmony. Let’s see this in more detail.
The 3 “musts” for the B&B manager life:
A first important aspect is to realize that managing a guest house is a real job. It is not a holiday or a cushy work. Even by limiting the services offered and the size of the property to maintain, this is a real job, with its positive aspects and less rosy or glamorous sides. This must be clear for anyone who wants to embark on this great adventure.
Only by practicing the business of managing B&B you will judge appropriately the profession. Nevertheless, 3 prerequisites are absolutely essential.
1. The 1st objective must not be financial!
It is obvious that catering is not the sector where the margins are the most important. It must be very clear for you.
The margins are usually quite low in fact.
It is only by generating a lot of volume that you will get a substantial income. Having said this, it will be necessary to agree on the workload and maybe considering outsourcing some activities.
The questions you need to answer are the following ones:
- Will you share the workload with external partners?
- Will you do everything on your own?
- How about homemade dishes for the meals?
- Who will clean the rooms?
- Will you wash the sheets yourself…and iron them?
- Will you take care of the whole property (grass, trees, plants,…)?
Any activity that you won’t do yourself, will mean, less work on your shoulder,… but higher fixed and variable costs to run your business.
For any external partner, ask yourself: at what price?Investigating this topic leads you to a fundamental choice.
More time, less money… or reverse?
Would you be ready to earn a little less in order to improve your life quality? What’s the most important for you…and your partner? Do you both agree on this?
Having said that, even if the goal is not financial, you will need to set up a financial plan.
Coming soon: Link to Theme 4: Looking for the right estate & Negociation skills
The Financial dimension which guides you must be twofold:
* buying a property at a fair price and relying on a recurrent property gain throughout the years
* making sure that during the running time of the B&B, the revenues cover all your costs: fixed costs (mortgage repayment, if applicable), but also variable costs, such as heating, electricity, food & travel expenses
Important to have other income sources
Ideally, incomes from the B&B should be considered as additional revenue. It is important to have other sources of income. The ability to work part-time elsewhere, and/or rental yields from other property rented would be a real source of comfort.
Our concrete advice: “a co-management by two persons having distinctive time and financial dedications”.
This is the winning formula
- one of the two people manages the B&B on a daily basis by dedicating himself/herself entirely to it,
- the other one dedicates time to it in a variable and adaptive way according to the activity. He/She will pursue a professional activity of its own, generating income in a secure and recurring manner.
This methodology is effective, especially in the context of seasonal work, as is the case of a B&B. Unless you go to the Canary Islands and enjoy a constant climate throughout the 12 months of the year, you will have to adapt to the climate, the seasons and therefore the occupancy rate. Check our monthly weather statistics on any Spanish City.
This management type will make it possible to have two visions and (distinct but complementary) approaches while minimizing the financial risks. Following this philosophy will allow you to manage your B&B without having a Damocles financial sword over your head.
This will improve the service quality you offer to your guests. It will be one of the major pillars of the B&B’s customer’s loyalty and a prerequisite for capturing prospects.
Coming soon: Link to Theme 5: B&B communication
Social and human meetings are key to the activity of a B&B manager. This is where the real wealth is. Human contact therefore is a dimension that you will need to master.
Put yourself in the place of your future hosts. Choosing an un-renowned B&B may be risky. Still they decide to come and spend holidays at your place rather than in a beautiful hotel. Why? This has probably to do with a fundamental aspect: social contact and the expectation of “something different”.
This means that, one way or another, they will want to spend time with you. Many will be curious to know the “why&how” of your project. Smiling, you will repeat for the umpteenth time the same story. Your hosts will be eager to find out about the good place hardly visible on a map or the fantastic little restaurant still not listed on tourist guides.
It will be up to you to give them this information. It will convince them that they made the right choice of holidays.
In a nutshell, you will be face continued high demand. It will therefore be important that, when you want to recover your family intimacy, you can will able do so. This a key element when it comes to choosing the appropriate B&B configuration.
Coming soon: Link to Theme 2: Setting up objectives & real estate criteria selection
Keep a private area?
Some guest houses have physical separations between private and public areas. “Friendships” with guest may appear. The temptation will sometimes be strong to open the doors of its private side.
Our advice: keep a private part, exclusive for you, when your relatives will visit.
What is certain is that, by managing a B&B, you will travel while staying at home. People from all over the world, will come to visit you. You will spread your contact network with great people of different cultures and environments. It’s just fantastic!
3. Understanding the life of a B&B Manager: the Time Test
The guesthouse or “casa rural” means the delivery of 2 main services offered by the manager: the bed (with bathroom, private or not) and the breakfast. This is contrary to the concept of a rented vocational house where the keys of a building are given on arrival date, taken back at departure date, with no service provided in-between. In this case the customers are completely independent.
Coming soon: Link to Theme 3: The existing B&B offer in Spain
The services offered in a B&B therefore include regular visits to the rooms but also and especially the organization of breakfasts.
Practical example: the breakfast “work” with its time implications
A breakfast (worthy of the name) must be ready at 8 am. It will necessarily involve a preparation from 7am (food + room) and finish around noon. Taking into consideration the chatting, the bringing of additional food, and then the cleaning& storing, as well as the next day’s preparations of homemade dishes, count a half-day for the “Breakfast” task.
Now, the guests are usually also very fond of evening meals. You may want to give your personal touch applied to fresh and local products. This is a great idea your guests will appreciate a lot but you need to realize that, as a consequence, your schedules will “undergo” additional extensions.
How long is the high season?
Furthermore you may have guests the next day who required an early breakfast. In case of evening meals and early risers the next day you will have 5 hours of sleep at most. This may happen 7 days a week, and last during the whole high season. Whatever the Spanish region, a high season means at least 2 months. You will lose track of time. Is it Sunday or Tuesday?…
While you believe you can count on quiet moments, you will still be annoyed some times. It will also happen during your meal, or while you sleep. No great deal but you need to be aware of all this. Unavoidable events will mark your route of B&B manager…as it is in case in any “normal” work.
Coming soon: Link to Theme 7: Day to Day business
Generally speaking, the more your time dedication will be important, the more it will be valued, and respected by your customers. There will be a form of “give & take”, where your hosts, aware of the work you do, will also help you in minor tasks. Here is a practical example.
A customer will always want to clean up his/her table if the meal meets have met the expectations. A form of “B & B culture” can appear where customers copy others. After everyone is done eating in the morning, you will arrive at the breakfast place, ready to take away food and insert dirty plates in the dishwasher. Suddenly you realize that everything is already in the dishwasher; part of the job was done by your guests! You will see that it is a very pleasant feeling…
And the management of your B&B?
The services of the B&B are not limited to the meals and the room cleaning. It will also be necessary to carry management tasks, such as booking requests, legal requirements (invoices, tax declarations), marketing projects (advertising, promotional offers, partnerships with local companies…), as well as the maintenance of the interior and exterior spaces of your property. There will be no time to get bored!
Forget the 9 to 5 schedule
You understood: the concept of the “9 to 5” schedule is just totally incompatible with the function.
Coming soon: Link to Theme 7: Day to Day business
In conclusion, we can say that, if you benefit from some financial flexibility, that you like social contact and that you are ready not to count your working hours, then managing a guest house is made for you!
Our first theme is now completed. We will continue our analysis in a future article. by defining the objectives & criteria selection of your future Spanish property.
We want to contribute to the success of your B&B in Spain
We invite you to discover this world thanks to our external partner, Patrick. We want to contribute to the success of your project by sharing tips and informative data.
Patrick has created a detailed series of articles related to his extensive experience in the B&B business in Spain. It is a chronological guide starting with the set up of your B&B project and advising you step by step in order to better manage this professional transition: How to create selection criteria? Where to locate? Administrative work? Marketing?…
The topics are divided into a series of 8 themes and will be published on a regular basis. At the end, you will have all the keys to open the door of your dreams.
Introduction: How to set up a Bed & Breakfast…and manage it?
Theme 3: The Spanish B&B market
Theme 5: Admin check : procedure & documents
Theme 6: B&B communication
Theme 7: Day to Day business
Theme 8: Last advice + Starting the B&B adventure
B&B adviser, Partner of HowtobuyinSpain
Patrick created and managed his own B&B in Spain for 8 years. He knows the ins and the outs of that business.
About Patrick and his team, our B&B adviser
Patrick has a degree in Applied Economics and a master in International Politics. With a financial background, he lived for 8 years in Spain, setting up from scratch and managing a charming B&B. The B&B is still running today.
Patrick advises you for all the major decisions related to the business life of a B&B: B&B Business setting up, B&B estate selection criteria, administrative & legal procedures, Communication strategy and Day to day business.
His expertise covers all the Spanish coastal regions.
Languages: Dutch, French, English, Spanish & Catalan